Vibrant murals adorn many of the walls within San Antonio’s West Side. They celebrate the area’s Chicano culture and history with bright colors, beautiful designs, and empowering imagery.
One particular mural has been inspiring kids to stay in school for decades. Educación was painted by local artists Cruz Ortiz and Juan Ramos to call attention to the gang violence within the West Side. Its symbolism speaks volumes.
The artwork features Lisa, a student who has chosen her education over bad influences like gangs. Lisa is holding a banner in triumph over the skeletons and graves of gang members still clutching their guns. She chose her education, while the skeletons below did not. Like many of the neighborhood’s other murals, Educación features symbols celebrating the population’s Mexican heritage like Aztec pyramids in the background and a flourishing agave plant in the sunrise.
Educación was originally painted in 1994. It was later updated and restored in 1999. With cracks in the mural and its pigment beginning to fade from the elements, it won’t be long before another restoration is needed so the next generation can enjoy this exquisite artwork.
Amazingly, the mural has sustained very little damage or vandalism over the years. The San Antonio Cultural Arts Program, a group of local artists dedicated to placing murals and artwork around the city, fosters a sense of community pride around the murals it helps create. Each new mural receives a religious and indigenous blessing. Block parties full of music, food, and art celebrate every new art installation.